Thanks to the fantastic Girls That Scuba facebook group, I met Claudia from Dawn Dives Academy for a drink. We talked travel, badly behaved customers and everything Lanzarote. The dive sites here are a mixture between shore dives and boat dives, with reefs and walls providing plenty of opportunities for marine life to thrive. And on top of that, there's an underwater museum.
I'm an experienced diver now, I'm very calm and I do a lot of yoga - this adds together to make me pretty conservative on air consumption. The last time I dived I was with a mixed experience group. My first dive was really short because someone else was low on air quickly, so I was really keen not to have a repeat of this. I didn't need to worry at all!
Claudia and I had a perfect day of diving just the two of us. We geared up at the very organised dive shop before driving to Flamingo beach. Despite an underwater photography competition taking place, we wandered into the water, and within minutes Claudia had spotted an octopus. The sheltered harbour and rocky wall make it an ideal location for juvenile fish and things that prey on them. As we descended lower, there were huge shoals small mouthed grunts, as well as the comically long-nosed trumpet fish, prawns and barracudas. This was my longest dive ever. We spent 72 minutes in serene contemplation of a thriving marine ecosystem.
As we left the water, seemingly hundreds of suited and booted divers were ready to get their first experience underway - we had been lucky and had the reef to ourselves.
Charlotte Reef introduced similar marine life to us including a moray eel and a tiny baby bright green fish in the seagrass. With another long dive, I was feeling cold before getting through my air - water temperatures of 22 degrees doesn't sound too bad but after warm water diving in Mexico and Egypt, it felt cold after such a long time.
Our final dive was a boat dive at the Underwater Museum. We drove to the harbour and jumped on the boat shared by different dive shops. After rolling our eyes at the macho dive instructors sharing our trip, the short boat ride took us to Jason deCaires Taylor's collection of sculptures which lie in the sheltered bay. Claudia was really knowledgeable about the symbolism of different statues as well as on the history of the Museum. Local people were used as models for the life-sized sculptures, which represent different important themes including greed, wealth and the plight of refugees.
After rejoining the boat (I was quite smug that we'd had the longest dive and the macho men were waiting for us), we had time to chat about the experience. The statues have a bit of a creepy vibe. Algae has grown over the surfaces, giving a sense of decay. However, I was surprised by the sheer abundance of life enjoying the museum. A couple of giant anemones have made their homes in secluded corners, whilst we were surprised by the sudden appearance of a school of sardines and then again by a busy squid whizzing by. In an otherwise empty part of the ocean floor, Jason deCaires Taylor has achieved his aim of linking culture, conversation and tourism.
Have you been to Lanzarote? What did you think? Do you want to see more photos? Comment below.